Blues moved one more step closer towards Premier League survival this afternoon after clinching a 2-0 win over a Sunderland side who continue their bad run of form. McLeish named an unchanged side meaning those who had battled against Blackburn and Bolton regained their place yet again, and deservedly so.
In front of a near enough sell out crowd the home side began the game brightly, with Jerome again looking incredibly lively in the first few minutes as he has done the previous two games. And he nearly got the opening goal when he was put clean through but his shot was saved by Sunderland keeper Mignolet.
Sunderland then began to get into the game and had more of the possession but failed to create. They almost got a break though when, on the edge of his box, Barry Ferguson uncharacteristically lost the ball but Ben Foster and Roger Johnson were both on hand to spare his blushes; the former making a great dive to scoop the ball away from the feet of a Sunderland player, and the latter making a goal line clearance when it looked inevitable that the away side would take the lead.
It was a nervy period for Blues and the crowd were getting anxious as the ball kept making its way back to Foster, but that was exactly what led to the first Blues goal: Foster cleared it high up field with one of his massive kicks; Jerome flicked the ball on superbly and Larsson ran on. Confusion between Mignolet and Bardsley allowed Larsson to sneak a foot in on the end of the box and the ball rolled into the back of the net - 1-0 to Blues and just the boost we needed.
The second half saw immediate Sunderland pressure but some very un-clinical finishing; some super Ben Foster saves and some last ditch defending saw that Blues maintained their one goal lead. Phillips, who struggled to get into the game, was substituted and Hleb filled the gap, and just five minutes later he provided the pass that set p the second goal. After some neat passing by Blues the ball fell to the feet of Hleb, who instead of running on found Gardner free on the edge of a box. Craig picked up the ball and hit hard with his left foot, which bounced in front of their Sunderland keeper and into the back of the net to give Blues a two-goal lead.
By then, you could tell it was Blues who would run out winners, and they saw the final fifteen minutes of the game out seemingly comfortably. Man of the match Larsson, on his 100th Premier League appearance, left the field to a standing ovation and a few chants of "sign him up" rang from the Tilton as the game came to a close.
It's not often we're the most clinical team, but today proved that goals win games and no matter how much possession you have or how many shots you have, it takes goals to win games and fortunately Blues were able to score two of them today.
Three points in the right direction, two goals scored and a clean sheet which will have done wonders for the back four and England's number one in goal. Well done Blues, another win should surely do it now!